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In Memoriam: Drusilla (Dru) Cummins, Former UUA Trustee, Officer

Chalice within a wreath of holly.

With sadness, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) announces the death of Drusilla (Dru) Cummins (1925-2009), who served as the UUA Trustee representing Prairie Star and Western Canada Districts from 1979 to 1987 and as First Vice Moderator. She died peacefully on November 29, 2009. She was married to Rev. John Cummins, Minister Emeritus of First Universalist Church, Minneapolis. Together, they were parents to three children.

She was elected to the board of the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation (UUWF) in 1967, and in 1973 she became president (serving until 1977), helping to promote equal representation of women throughout the denomination, full support for women ministers, gender-neutral language, and a continental program of leadership development.

In 1974 Dru Cummins went to the UUA General Assembly in Philadelphia to ask for space so she and her UUWF cohorts could present the first Ministry to Women Award, but they were refused because they were an auxiliary organization. Undeterred, Cummins and others called a press conference, then rented a nearby church along with 55 buses to take women there, so they could present the First Ministry to Women Award to Ms. Magazine editors Gloria Steinem and Pat Carbine. The award came full circle when Cummins was given the award by the UUWF in 2000.

Having cracked the glass ceiling, in rapid succession Dru Cummins was elected a trustee of the UUA, then an officer of the board, and chair of several committees. These positions also gave her opportunities to empower other women. She later served as the first woman chair of the board of Meadville Lombard Theological School, and she led a campaign to elect the first woman president of the denomination. She later reflected, “I had been empowered by our liberating faith, and by women and men who share that faith.”

In 1991, Dru and John Cummins received the Annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Unitarian Universalism, the most prestigious award given by the UUA.

Denny Davidoff, former Moderator of the UUA (1993-2001) said, “Dru was the newly elected president of the UUWF when I joined the board in 1973. I absolutely loved working under her leadership: she had clarity about the UUA's place in the national religious community, discipline, humor, perspective and, to the glory of the UUWF, was a warrior feminist. Later, I spent eight years observing her effectiveness as the UUA Trustee from the Prairie Star District. Dru and John Cummins were role models for Jerry [Davidoff] and me. From them, we learned what an effective leadership couple looked like.”

A celebration of Dru Cummins' life will be held at First Universalist Church, Minneapolis, on Saturday, December 19, at 1:00 PM.  Rev. Justin Schroeder will officiate.  Memorial contributions may be made to the Carl Olson Fund for Ministerial Education at First Universalist Church, Minneapolis, 3400 Dupont Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Condolences may be sent to Rev. John Cummins at the First Universalist Church address.